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SACRAMENTO � weeks before leaving office, Attorney General Bill Lockyer was busy blasting faxes instead of packing boxes. Department lawyers had secured a $7.15 million settlement with a tobacco company and Lockyer, days away from being sworn in as California’s next treasurer, wanted the press to know about it. The payment amounts to a tiny fraction of California’s $24 billion take from the 1998 multistate pact with cigarette manufacturers. But Lockyer insisted the deal would “ That’s vintage Lockyer, associates say. They describe the longest, continuously serving elected official in state government as a go-go guy who has a hand in most decisions and isn’t afraid to brag about his department’s victories. “Bill has this incredible level of energy,” said Richard “Rick” Frank, Lockyer’s chief deputy until he left for Boalt Hall School of Law this summer. “Sometimes it seemed like he pulled the staff along just to keep up with him.” Critics call Lockyer a grandstanding politician always looking for the next headline and elected office. This is a man, after all, who left his own wedding reception in 2003 to announce the arrest of Scott Peterson, the Modesto man later convicted of killing his pregnant wife. But the outgoing attorney general makes no apologies for what he calls “an active press office.” It’s good for the morale of department lawyers, who typically make far less than their private-sector peers, he said. “I used to describe this job as part cheerleader, part rainmaker and part air traffic controller,” Lockyer said in a recent interview. “It’s good for our budget needs to have the governor and Legislature know what we do, to be visible to them. And it helps when the public knows what’s going on here.” The fax machines will stop whirring soon. Term limits are forcing Lockyer from office after eight years. But the man who became attorney general without a day’s experience as a prosecutor has clearly left his mark. Lockyer inherited a department shaped by his Republican predecessor’s pro-business and traditional top-cop policies. Lockyer leaves a 1,100-lawyer Department of Justice where civil prosecution now shares equal billing � some might say top billing � with death penalty defense and drug enforcement. “These changes, I think, have brought improvements to the department,” said J. Clark Kelso, a professor at McGeorge School of Law and former state insurance commissioner. “I think they’ve brought substantial balance to the department.” Lockyer created a stand-alone civil rights unit and sued counties for disability-access violations. He beefed up the consumer protection division, which has obtained more than $523 million in judgments over the last eight years. He famously snubbed a federal antitrust settlement with Microsoft and, with eight other attorneys general, pursued tougher penalties on the software giant. And he recently set up an endowment to prosecute piracy and privacy crimes with a $14.5 million settlement from Hewlett-Packard. “When I got here, a lot of things came off the shelf real fast that I think were waiting for an AG who was interested,” Lockyer said. “It felt to me like I was unpopping the cork on the bottle.” Perhaps most significantly, the attorney general’s office under Lockyer emerged as one of the Bush administration’s chief foils on environmental issues, challenging policies on timber cutting, coastal drilling and global warming. During his first week on the job, Lockyer jumped into a federal lawsuit that ultimately resulted in a ban on two-stroke engines, used mostly by personal watercraft, on Lake Tahoe. “I wanted to make the point we were doing environmental work again,” he said in a clear reference to former Attorney General Dan Lungren. Lockyer managed to pursue his expansion of the public rights division without alienating the state’s district attorneys or his own agency’s prosecutors. A liberal Democrat from Alameda County, Lockyer � who earned his J.D. from McGeorge School of Law in 1986 while serving in the state Senate � never had the prosecutorial credentials to easily deflect criticism that he was soft on crime. In fact, as leader of the state Senate, Lockyer had criticized and sometimes blocked law enforcement legislation.
‘I think there are probably some crusty old crim guys that eight years ago thought I was Karl Marx, and today maybe they still do.’

Bill Lockyer


What he did have were political connections at a time when Democrats controlled the governor’s office and Legislature. And he wasn’t afraid to use them. During a 1998 campaign debate, Lockyer told an audience of skeptical district attorneys that “the real prosecutor” in that year’s AG race, Orange County prosecutor Michael Capizzi, had lost in the primary. “My point to them was, you’ve got these two hacks in front of you who want to be AG, and the only thing I can say is, I’m better working with the governor’s office and the Legislature and the finance department to try to help meet your needs, to be an aggressive advocate for your budget,” Lockyer said. NOT QUITE KARL MARX And Lockyer was, especially when it came to protecting state funding for regional crime labs and speeding the processing of DNA samples at testing sites. “Those are incredibly important things to DAs,” said David LaBahn, executive director of the California District Attorneys Association. “He didn’t want to tell the DAs what to do. He wanted to know what the DAs needed.” His tactic worked. In 1998, Lockyer had the backing of just 10 of 58 district attorneys in California. By the time he ran for reelection four years later, he had secured the endorsements of 35 DAs. Lockyer also had the political savvy to secure support within his department. In one of his first acts as AG, Lockyer got rid of Lungren’s personal parking spot in the state garage and awarded it on a rotating basis to employees of the month, as chosen by their colleagues. He also “liberated” one of the Sacramento office’s six elevators, which Lungren commandeered whenever he was in the 17-floor building. He also took a light touch with the criminal law division, allowing the veterans there to continue work, he said, largely on “autopilot.” “I think there are probably some crusty old crim guys that eight years ago thought I was Karl Marx, and today maybe they still do,” Lockyer said. “But I think I would get good marks as an advocate for the staff, as someone who cared about their work and wanted a full-service law firm, who cared about all the different aspects of the Department of Justice.” He also created the position of solicitor general, not to represent his views in court but to coach deputy attorneys and review their filings. And he launched the department’s first computer-based case-tracking system. Throughout his career, Lockyer has enjoyed the political and financial support of labor unions and trial lawyers. The two groups were among the biggest contributors to his recent campaign for treasurer. And when voters in 2004 approved Proposition 64, which effectively barred individuals from suing for damages if they hadn’t been personally injured, the plaintiffs bar turned to Lockyer. “To Lockyer’s credit, after Prop 64 I believe he was approached by plaintiffs firms who wanted to partner with him, and he declined,” said John Sullivan, president of the tort reform group Civil Justice Association of California. State laws, case law and labor agreements with deputy attorneys general make it difficult for the AG to dish out work to private lawyers, Lockyer noted. “Unfortunately, I’ve lost some very dear friends from what I think is just doing my job,” Lockyer said. “They think, I guess, that I did it in ways that were unnecessarily adversarial.” ‘SPIKE’ IN THE POLLS As an example, Lockyer pointed to the state’s lawsuit against energy company Sempra Energy Trading, which was accused of price-gouging during the 2001 energy crisis. Plaintiffs firm Girardi & Keese was already pursuing litigation against Sempra when the attorney general filed his own suit in 2005. Critics suggested that firm partner Thomas Girardi, a major Lockyer donor, had persuaded the AG to sue after settlement talks between Sempra and trial lawyers fizzled. But in a November 2005 court declaration, Girardi insisted that he pleaded with Lockyer to stay out of the potentially lucrative case. Lockyer said the dispute over his office’s role in the market-manipulation case ended their friendship, although filings with the Secretary of State’s office show that Thomas Girardi’s wife, Erika Girardi, and the Girardi & Keese firm contributed more than $20,000 combined this year to Lockyer’s campaign for treasurer. “Once in a while we end up on the same side of a lawsuit [with trial lawyers], but more often they’re the ones suing the state,” Lockyer said. Still, Ray Boucher, president of the Consumer Attorneys of California, said that even though Lockyer is legally constrained in working with private firms, “there’s been much more of a willingness” in the AG’s office to consider the cases plaintiffs lawyers are pursuing. “There’s no way the AG’s office could have taken on Enron, Duke, Dynergy and the other energy companies as efficiently and effectively without the resources of Lieff Cabraser and Milberg Weiss and other firms that were pushing hard in that area,” Boucher said. “As hard as his office worked on it, they were substantially aided by plaintiffs firms.” The attorney general’s press office said prosecutors have recovered more than $5.3 billion in settlements from energy companies. The energy crisis was also the inspiration for one of Lockyer’s most notorious verbal gaffes. In 2001, Lockyer told reporters that he savored the thought of escorting Enron CEO Kenneth Lay to a prison cell with a tattooed dude who says, “Hi, my name is Spike, honey.” Lockyer, who later apologized for the inference to prison rape, said he made the comments about Lay after then-Gov. Gray Davis asked him to “turn up the heat” on Enron officials to encourage them to renegotiate high-priced energy contracts. “We polled after that and my numbers went up,” Lockyer said. “So even though I had turned up the heat a little too much, voters seemed to think it was a good idea with Enron and Ken Lay.” Lockyer has taken a much more measured approach in his handling of litigation surrounding gay marriage. Although Lockyer personally supports gay marriage, his office is defending the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex unions. But state lawyers are not relying on social conservatives’ argument that gay marriage should be barred because of possible harm to children. “We tried to make the argument in a way that was respectful to gays and lesbians, that there is a middle road where the rights and responsibilities are conferred on every relationship but not marriage status,” he said. “That’s different from what either of the sides of the debate have been arguing.” Going into the 2006 election season, Lockyer was considered a leading Democratic contender for governor. He had $10 million in the bank and high name recognition from eight years in an office that’s a traditional launching pad for the governor’s job. But in 2005 he announced that he would run instead for the lower-profile office of treasurer. He won easily. Lockyer, the father of a preschool-age son, said he didn’t want to commit the time needed to raise money and campaign against Schwarzenegger. But he wouldn’t rule out running for governor in 2010 when Schwarzenegger is termed out. As for his successor, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, Lockyer said the transition has been going on for months. Lockyer has left Brown with a host of controversial lawsuits under way. Brown who, like Lockyer, has moderated his liberal politics in recent years, has not said whether he will continue pursuing criminal charges against Hewlett-Packard executives charged in a boardroom spying scandal. He also hasn’t said what he’ll do with Lockyer’s global warming lawsuit against six automakers. Brown and Lockyer recently shared a three-hour breakfast and, while the outgoing AG didn’t divulge details of the conversation, he said he’s sure Brown will do “a great job.” Lockyer said he won’t be meddling in Brown’s administration. In fact, he said he won’t miss being attorney general. “If there were no term limits, I would probably still be in the state Senate,” he said. “I’ve always thought of myself as a lawmaker rather than a law enforcer.”

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